Short-term stopgap spending bills have become commonplace on Capitol Hill, making planning difficult for those who manage federal construction programs and companies that pursue those projects. But government and industry officials now know how much funding they will have to deal with through the end of fiscal 2009, thanks to a newly enacted $410-billion omnibus spending bill. With critics highlighting the package’s estimated $7.7 billion in earmarked funds for specific projects, House Democrats have put in place new requirements on earmarking.
The legislation, which President Obama signed on March 11, merges the nine uncompleted 2009 appropriations bills and funds most major construction accounts, including those at the Transportation and Energy Depts., General Services Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. The Associated General Contractors calculates the omnibus has $121.9 billion for construction programs, up 5% from $115.6 billion in 2008. “The construction numbers are pretty strong for 2009 in the ‘omni,’ which is a nice trend,” says Jeffrey D. Shoaf, AGC’s senior executive director for government and public affairs.